In the Society's consultation response to DECC it expresses concern that the proposed approach may unnecessarily serilise nationally important mineral resources.
The Planning Officers Society (POS) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the "Strategic Environmental Assessment for Further Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing".
The POS acknowledges that it has an active and positive part to play through the operation of the planning system to achieve sustainable economic growth by bringing forward energy sources as part of the national objective of delivering a secure and diverse energy supply within National Policy on Energy.
The SEA is a statutory requirement to be applied to the PEDL process. The PEDL is obviously a trigger that allows further examination of potential sites for the exploration, appraisal and production of oil and gas all of which have environmental effects.
It goes without saying that any significant environmental effects will be largely dependent on the location of the oil and gas resource and associated PEDL areas. Whilst POS would like to see further consideration given to the alternative to place restrictions on the award of licences in relation to proximity to significant environmental designations to protect environmentally sensitive areas, it recognises that this has not been undertaken in the approach to PEDLs to date. There are concerns that this, may unnecessarily serilise nationally important mineral resources and in any event would be subject to detailed assessment at a local level by planning authorities (and other regulators) based on national planning policy and guidance .